Looks like Camden, New Jersey is ready for a Robocop police force

Illustration for article titled Looks like Camden, New Jersey is ready for a Robocop police force

I have seen the future of law enforcement, and recent news suggests that it could be coming to New Jersey.


First of all, we are closer to having Robocops than ever. Over at C|Net, Tim Hornyak reports on a new project to deploy remote-controlled robotic police:

Researchers at Florida International University's Discovery Lab are working with a member of the U.S. Navy Reserves to build telepresence robots that could patrol while being controlled by disabled police officers and military vets. In a sense, they would be hybrid man-machine cops, like RoboCop. Lieutenant Commander Jeremy Robins has given $20,000 to the lab and borrowed two robots valued at nearly $500,000 from the Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) to realize his vision of bringing some of the thousands of disabled cops and soldiers in the U.S. back to the workforce. They would work as patrol officers, operating wheeled telepresence robots and doing everything from responding to 911 calls and writing parking tickets to ensuring the security of nuclear facilities.

That's all very nice, but we know that every piece of technology has the potential to be used for the forces of evil as well as good.

If you recall the movie Robocop, the cyborg enforcers were deployed because the Detroit police department was unionized and kept having these pesky strikes for better treatment. And now Camden, New Jersey is setting up the conditions for a Robocop-like scenario by firing its (unionized) police force. They're replacing them with a non-union police department, which the Camden City Council claims will allow them to hire more officers for the same price.

The plan to replace police officers who have health benefits and pension plans with non-unionized ones who may have none of those things is, to locals, a scary idea. Huffington Post's John Rudolph reports:

John Williamson, president of the city's police union, said the scarcity of details available about the new agency was a clear sign that residents were being being used in a large-scale experiment in public safety with uncertain consequences.

"This plan is unproven, untested and unstudied," Williamson said. "They're playing mad scientist with people's lives."


But while you're going all mad scientist, why bother with humans at all? Even if those new cops are scabs, you still have to pay them. Why not just bring in cyborgs instead? Even if Discovery Lab doesn't partner with Camden to bring them the ultimate low-cost law enforcement labor force, somebody else will. If nothing else, we'll get an amazing reboot movie "based on true events." New Jersey Robocop has quite a ring to it.



""This plan is unproven, untested and unstudied," Williamson said. "They're playing mad scientist with people's lives.""

...in terms of replacing generally overpaid unionized police with private enterprise police or with augmenting them with robots?

If the former then he is just scare mongering because privatization of police works almost universally well wherever it is tried. One of the great benefits of it is that private police are almost never considered "holier-than-thou" in the way that the supposedly angelic public police are. This is a great benefit because it actually means that they have to undergo a reasonable level of outside scrutiny when they fuck-up as opposed to simply deferring to "an internal investigation is ongoing" and then waiting for people not to care anymore.

If the latter it is still scare mongering because many police departments are already using drones to peep at you without your explicit permission. It's totally logically incoherent to be afraid of this and NOT of the the machine that was previously used to fire hellfire missles at whatever group of middle easterners that Army was told to kill that day.